Family legend has it that I conned my Grandpa Lou when I was eight years old.
The scene of the crime was the grocery store near my grandparents cottage. It was in a tiny little town and maybe the owners were Dutch or liked Dutch stuff or something because they had a little room near the back with a whole bunch of Dutch-inspired chatchkas in it: Delft blue pottery replicas and such.
Of course, I was smitten. I was a mostly-useless-but-pretty-stuff hoarder even way back then. I mean, who doesn’t like a little chatchka shopping when they were only planning to buy two-year old cheddar and Mennonite summer sausage?
Naturally, after some browsing, I convinced my Grandpa Lou to buy me a decorative spoon “for my spoon collection.” It had a Delft blue pottery-looking wooden (well, ceramic) shoe on the end and it came all the way from the Netherlands–well, China, actually, via Drayton, Ontario.
Such a treasure. I loved it.
Don’t believe me? 38 years later, I still have that spoon.
So there. Here’s the evidence:
Please consider this when you’re judging my con artist ways.
Anyway, on the way back to the cottage all those years ago, my Grandpa Lou asked, “So, how many spoons does this make in your collection, now?”
He was apparently (hopefully?) quite amused when I replied, seemingly without guilt or guile: “This is my first!”
And that, dear friends, is how I became a decorative spoon collector. Relatives and friends would bring me specimens for the collection I didn’t really have, from their various worldly adventures which I stored and carted around through my 20s and various cross-country and out-of-country moves.
Yep, guilt over your con artist start in the spoon collecting industry will make you very loyal to your ill-begotten collection. And, suddenly, you realize that you actually do HAVE a collection.
In recent years, they were stored in the drawer of the china cabinet (donated by Grandma Verna), since the china cabinet is where I put all the grown-up things that I don’t actually use: “good” dishes, crystal salt and pepper shakers, pickle plates, and the china tea set from my childhood.
Out of sight, out of mind. That is, in the dining room (definitely a room for grown-ups).
There was a brief period of spoons on the wall, but (con artist guilt aside), decorative spoons really aren’t my thing. I’m more likely to have VW hubcaps and vintage printing press blocks festooning our house.
You know, things that kind of make Practical Man roll his eyes, but he still helps me festoon because he’s a very handy festooner.
Lately, though, I’ve been trying to purge items that I don’t truly love or make use of daily.
Have no fear. Practical Man is safe on both counts.
The spoons, however–even after all my years of guilt-fueled loyalty–were on shaky ground.
After getting sucked into the vortex that is Pinterest for a few hours, (after all, who doesn’t like a little chatchka oogling and Fiat drooling when they were only planning to search for upcycyling ideas for decorative spoons?) I came across the idea to transform the decorative spoons into a charm bracelet.
Presto-bongo. Practical Man to the rescue for the tedious (and slightly unsettling) spoon decapitation and hole drilling and jump-ring installation.
Then, I am back for the glory phase of attaching to the chain for the bracelet.
Memories of my and other people’s adventures in Miami Beach, Montreal, Detroit, Texas, New Orleans, St. Augustine, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec, Pheonix, Bahamas, Heidelberg, Ottawa, RCMP, Victoria, and England now tinkle and dance together, making a happy, loved, useful sound.
My spoons are re-born as kitschy, sentimental bracelets. Two of them!
My Grandpa Lou loved kitschy, sentimental stuff so I think he would approve.
Last night at the Hallowe’en dance, I won the prize for Most Original Costume.
In other words: the costume that looked homemade, had built-in lighting, and seemed as if it needed its own time zone.
Wearing a jellyfish body on your head covers lots of square footage, little did you know. Also, drunk people sometimes think you’re dressed up as a lamp.
It made me realize what it must be like to be pregnant.
Or a bride with a giant dress.
First of all, there was the bride-with-a-giant-dress challenge of fitting a giant jellyfish head into a bathroom stall.
Jellyfish do a lot of giggling, when they pee.
Unfortunately, jellyfish don’t have bridesmaids to help out with logistics (although a very friendly dominatrix offered her help).
Then, there was the I-must-be-very-pregnant way people engaged with the costume.
That is to say, the jellyfish costume seemed to imply that strangers could get closer than is normally comfortable to me. There were quite a number of people–pumpkins, the Sith, hippies, and tacky tourists–trying to join me under my massive jellyfish time zone, in a way that was slightly disconcerting.
Hands off the tentacles, people.
No jostling the jelly.
And, please put a few more clothes on, while you’re at it. This is the jellyfish timezone, not stripper camp.
My jellyfish costume is kind of a (okay, grade 3) work of art as result of Practical Man and I spending more time than adults probably should on something like a jellyfish costume, but this is what happens when you have no kids and like to pretend you’re still 4, like I do, or you’re Practical Man and live with someone who likes to pretend they’re still 4, like his wife does.
Oh sure, I’m not really 4, but how can you not love Hallowe’en?
- it’s got chocolate
- it’s got dressing up in fun costumes
- it’s got making stuff so you can dress up in a fun costume because buying a costume is just plain no fun at all (at least, for those of us who like to pretend we’re still 4)
- it’s got twirling, if you play your cards right or plan ahead and have a floaty jellyfish costume that is perfect for twirling
- it’s got prizes for best costumes (more chocolate!)
- even if you don’t win, there’s chocolate.
Hallowe’en is just awesome. Of course, I live in the country and no children ever come to our house, no matter how much we leave a trail of candy up the driveway or decorate the house (sniff!) but that doesn’t stop me from trying to buy goodies to hand out to the non-existent children or planning what I’ll wear.
Then, I seek out every Hallow’s Eve dancing event I can possibly get myself invited to. Often, it’s at the local village Legion which is fun because they always have a midnight buffet (with cake!) and everyone dances with everyone, which is like it was when I was a teenager in Germany so I get to simultaneously pretend I am 4 and 15 and what could be better than that?
The band is sometimes a bit painful but, really when it comes to dancing, as long as I can squint and recognize the tune, I’m in. I’m almost positive that last one was Time Warp. Or maybe, Werewolves of London.
When he picked me up this morning, Practical Man had a great idea for my next costume.
Noooo, I can’t tell you what it is! This is top-secret, super classified stuff.
All I can tell you is that next Hallowe’en:
- there will be chocolate
- there will be dressing up in fun costumes
- there will be making stuff so you can dress up in a fun costume because buying a costume is just plain no fun at all (at least, for those of us who like to pretend we’re still 4)
- there will be twirling, if you play your cards right or plan ahead and have a costume that is perfect for twirling
- there will be prizes for best costumes (more chocolate!)
- and, even if you don’t win, there will be chocolate.
Hallowe’en is just awesome.
I am currently reading the book, Wonder and in it, there are a number of precepts.
Am I the only one who had to pause to remember what “precepts” meant?
I hope not, but, just in case I am not the sole grade-3-spelling-bee-champ-with-an-adult-onset-short-term-memory-deficit-for-proper-nouns, here’s a refresher: precepts are mottos; wise sayings; noble rules by which to conduct one’s life.
It is important to have precepts. Especially ones like this one:
“Never admit that using your e-reader is a clever way to find out the meaning of a word in a book designed for middle-school children.”
I have another precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
(Precepts get taken more seriously when they are written with a few capital letters).
My precept is not to imply that I advocate fibbing or mis-representation or passing off that 7 layer cake you got from the artisan bakery as your own work (although having had my own layer cake trauma, I could almost understand if you felt compelled to do that).
No, what I mean is, be your authentic, flawed and wonderful self and then go ahead and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.
(Okay, so all caps is just too obnoxious, even for a precept).
Yep, instead of wallowing in your insecurities and all the things you just can’t do (although goodness knows, that’s fun on a cloudy afternoon with a box of ice cream), pretend you know how. Just for a little while, make the little voice in your head say, “Ha! This will be a breeze! I am great at knitting daisies/folding kirigami trees/building swings/crafting papier mache chandeliers/drawing purple elephants using my elbows” and then, as the megalo-maniac athletics company says: JUST DO IT.
(See, their precept, while lovely, is just a tad obnoxious with the all caps thing).
But, get on with it and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you actually can, after all.
I Fake It ‘Til I Make It all the time. In fact, I have recently convinced myself that I can play guitar, even though I only learned three-and-a-half chords around age 12.
And now, a few short weeks later, I sort of CAN play guitar.
I’m constantly Just Doing Things I can’t do. Faking It ‘Til I Make…something.
Like fabu-lizing my father’s old guitar case from 1964.
I had already festooned it with a few stickers after he gave it to me recently but, even though I adore festooning, that wasn’t Just Doing It for me, so, I came up with the idea to jazz it up with some vintage fabric I had lying around (jazzing up is like festooning on steroids).
Practical Man suggested that first, we fix it.
And by “we”, I mean “he”:
I don’t have a lot of patience for the clamping and gluing, the molding and re-laminating. But not Practical Man. He is a big fan of clamps. With a handful of clamps, he is one happy clamper.
After all the first aid, I finally got to play with the fabric.
Well, actually, Practical Man suggested that it would be a good idea to iron the fabric, first. The Faking It ‘Til I Make It project nearly ended right there because nobody told me that there was going to be ironing involved in this extravaganza.
Ironing was not part of my fabu-lizing plan. It is the very definition of anti-fabu-lizing.
But, I took a deep breath and I Faked It Like I Was A Person Who Ironed.
Then, it was back to the joy again as I got my nifty pinking shears (that’s just fun to say) and snip, snipped out the guitar shape from the very lovely, newly-ironed, vintage fabric:
Please ignore that whisper of fold near the top. No amount of Faking It or steam could help me flatten that. Also, I didn’t have quite enough full pieces of fabric so the bottom of the case is in two pieces, sewn together. I Fake It While I Say Bad Words and Sew quite frequently so this was not too traumatic.
Because of the scarcity of this vintage fabric, we decided to fabu-lize the sides of the guitar in other ways: using paint and tape. I was eager to get on with the Faking It While I Painted It but Practical Man reminded me that we should tape the inside of the case so it wouldn’t get red paint all over it.
Very thorough taping/papering ensued.
I may have rolled my eyes and sighed loudly, a couple of times.
Then, came the painting. Practical Man doesn’t have to Fake It ‘Til He Makes It while painting so he took the reigns and the spray can and got down to business. This being red, it took a few coats.
Then, there was waiting.
And after the final coat, for curing.
Finally, it was time for the fun fabric-izing! We covered the lid of the guitar case with white glue, using cheap paint brushes. Then, quickly, quickly, carefully, carefully, we laid down the fabric on top. We smushed it all down so that it all made contact with the glue, then we quickly, quickly, before it could dry, painted a thick layer of glue on top and worked out any bubbles we found to seal the fabric in.
Then, we had brandy to recover from the stress.
It was chocolate milk in a fun glass.
More waiting while the magic happened: the glue turned clear when it dried!
Once it was fully dry, we turned the case over and applied the second piece of fabric to the bottom.
More quickly, quickly.
More brandy (not really).
I do a lot of Faking It ‘Til I Make Like I Enjoy Waiting.
One day or a hundred years later, it was time to tape!
Oooh, quite stressful as well.
Using an exacto-knife, the tape, and nerves of steel, Practical Man and I carefully applied the tape to the edges of the lid, making “relief” cuts using the exacto knife on the tape when needed, to go around the underside of the curves.
Not only does the tape look fun, but it also strengthened the 51 year-old rim.
YAY, I thought.
No, no, not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales.
Practical Man reminded me that spraying the whole thing to protect it, was a good plan. I agreed but, honestly, that was before I realized that spraying meant scraping off all the excess, dried, clear glue that was on the edges (so that it wouldn’t crack and turn white every time we set the case down on the floor) and also:
Taping. The. Whole. Case. Again.
I wish I drank brandy.
So, there you have it. Approximately two weeks later, presto-bongo, we have a sturdy, repaired, carefully fabu-lized work of guitar case art and I love it:
There are apparently only two tasks left:
- rubbing 4-0 steel wool over the whole fabric surface to smooth off the fibres that have risen during gluing and then
- applying a coat of wax
The demonstration sample Practical Man made me has shown me that these two steps will, indeed, result in a superior end product. And, it’s also made me realize something:
Practical Man’s doesn’t live by the precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
He lives by the precept:
Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All.
I think we make a great team.
I am a documented scaredy cat, but I still love Hallowe’en.
Not the vampires, blood and gore Hallowe’en that some prefer.
Rather, the pretending, dressing up, revert-to-childhood version that lets me carry on like I did when I was 11, when I spent weeks designing, building and painting my mailbox costume (complete with chute for candy).
Or, the year before, when I was a die:
In Canada, all Hallowe’en costumes have to fit over a snowsuit.
None of those wispy fairy/princess/superhero costumes for us, no sireee. The foolish (or newly immigrated from warm climates) among us might try for that kind of nonsense but they just end up shivering their way around the neighbourhood with frost coming out of their nostrils and goosebumps the size of the Rockies all over their fairy wings/tiaras/capes.
We are a hardy Hallowe’en bunch, us Canadians.
As an adult, each Hallowe’en season is just a big excuse for a whole lotta dancing. I am Dancing Queen. I am Boogie Nights. I am Disco Fever.
Or, you know, something from this century.
Hallowe’en is an excuse to dream up a costume that lets me play for a few weeks in advance of the big event, plotting and planning, building and dreaming, all with a goal of creating something fun, flowy, and breezy to wear as I groove the night away with some serious tra-la-la.
Yes, I am 44. No need to point that out.
I probably should have been a kindergarten teacher. Lots of tra-la-la opportunities there. Tra-la-la is practically a job requirement.
Not to mention, twirling. Love the twirling. Five year-olds don’t look at you strangely when you do it, either. They just join in, like we should have been twirling all along.
I love that about them.
Due to my bookish nature, I have often gravitated for past Hallowe’ens to children’s literary characters including:
Raggedy Ann: white skirt, top, apron, fun socks, wig, doilie. Presto-bongo: homemade costume!
Dorothy: white skirt, blouse, apron, pigtails, ruby slippers. Presto-bongo: homemade costume!
Pippi: white skirt, white top, pinafore, red wig, pigtail with coathangers, fun shoes. Presto-bongo: homemade costume!
You may be noticing a theme here.
Even though my costumes no longer have to fit over a snowsuit, I’ve never been a woman who does that whole sexy nurse/fairy/butterfly/witch/pirate wench thing that many women do. I don’t feel any such inclinations to harness my inner hottie, but rather, my inner 4-year-old. With a side dish of twirling and dancing with gleeful abandon.
Then, there’s the chocolate, of course. Yummy.
This year, I got slightly more ambitious in the costume department.
There was architecture involved.
First, I got a top hat.
Practical Man generously donated several pounds of bubble wrap he had stored away for practical occasions such as this.
We recycled the corrugated presentation board from a Career Jeopardy game we had made for my work back in 1999, and cut it out in the shape of a doughnut.
But this isn’t a doughnut costume (although I’m sure if I could have managed to convert a white skirt and an apron into a doughnut, I would have tried).
I built up the presentation-board-formerly-known-as-Career-Jeopardy-game with tons and tons of the bubble wrap and packing tape. I stuck a lot of packing tape to my other fingers, the floor and my hair along the way. I may have cut my finger slightly with the scissors.
All is fair in Hallowe’en costume creation.
I cut clear plastic garbage bags into strips and strips and strips (mostly wiggly, because I hate measuring and plus, it’s more realistic, and have you already forgotten that I hate measuring?)
I cut ribbons and iridescent tulle.
Practical Man cut long strips from an old pool solar cover (he measured, of course. His strips are very straight.) He also strung some foam balls on fishing line (also measured precisely for varying lengths and distances).
Then, work began on the accessorizing.
First, the finger and toenails became party blue:
We still have 80 feet of solar blanket left from the pool, so I fashioned a little clutch.
It’s important that my costume have a place to put my lipstick.
Ta da! I think it’s practically like Dolce and Gabbana, don’t you think?
Then, I donned a white long-sleeved t-shirt, white skirt (we’re back to my usual antics) and an iridescent blue skirt that was in my Tickle Trunk. I pulled it up to my chest so it covered more of my body.
It looked swishy and sparkly. Perfect for twirling, if I do say so myself.
My friend Pippi (not her real name) thought I was…
I have forgiven her because by the time she was beholding my magnificence, she had already consumed half a bottle of white wine so it was hard for her to remember the correct word for my epic costume:
JELLYFISH, of course!
Rockin’ the jelly.
I’m a fresh water, Lake Ontario jellyfish. Hee hee.
Glow sticks from the local dollar store added just before dance time made it glowwwwwww.
Next time, I’ll use more, but still….
I love Hallowe’en.